Green is go for Leith Waterworld

Council support for Leith Waterworld was as welcome as it was surprising argues Green councillor Chas Booth

This week the City Council overwhelmingly decided to support community group, Splashback, over the next 11 months, in developing a business case for Leith Waterworld to re-open as a community pool.

Leith Waterworld was closed in January 2012, with only the Greens opposing closure at the time. Even on the morning of Thursday’s council meeting it seemed that most councillors remained sceptical about re-opening it.  The report before the Council was not positive.

So what changed and what now?

Huge credit needs to go to the volunteers from Splashback for their tenacity in insisting a community leisure pool was viable and for the eloquent and perfectly-pitched plea to full Council on Thursday.  Credit too to the Coalition parties for being prepared to listen and to echo the compelling social, economic and health case for a revitalised facility.  The realisation that selling the site would raise nothing like the £1.5 million originally anticipated probably helped focus minds too.

The hard work really goes up a gear now though. Turning the business plan developed by Splashback into reality will take new business activities, robust operating arrangements and an enormous amount of fundraising.  Re-energised marketing will also be needed before our capital city can again enjoy what towns from Stanraer to Lerwick and Oban to Elgin take for granted: a leisure pool.

But if one thing has been shown this week it is what a fantastic asset we have in our community activists.  I look forward to making a big splash with my own daughter and son and to supporting many more such ventures in the future.

This piece was first published in the Edinburgh Evening News on 2 February 2013